While most musicians these days strum along on an acoustic guitar, Pablo Sebastian of one-man-band The Salt & The Sea composes his songs on… a monome?
For those of you (myself previously included) who may not be familiar with this instrument, it’s basically a sound controller that sends files to a computer.
If that still doesn’t paint a picture for you yet, allow Sebastian himself to explain:
“This instrument has allowed me to create electronic-based music in a very free, organic way, decoupling me from the now common (and soon to be trite) ‘press play’ performance that has taken over music in recent years,” he said.
The monome also allows Sebastian to perform solo without a band—everything he writes, plays and records is right at his fingertips, allowing him to mix and mash pieces as he so chooses.
“I have also commissioned a guitar of my design with a monome inside of it, as well… The guitar is called the Spirit of Detroit and features various subtle details referencing Detroit culture,” Sebastian said.
Aside from the unique instruments, The Salt & The Sea continues to set itself apart by being more of a project than an actual band. Sebastian combined his songwriting, composing and producing talents (as well as previous band experience and creating music for commercials) into one element—resulting in The Salt & The Sea.
This means that nearly one hundred percent of what you hear at shows was produced, recorded and written by Sebastian himself.
“It’s a solitary way to work, but I have noticed that it really keeps me honest,” Sebastian said. “When you are alone in a studio for hours on end, you have only yourself to trust, and that really helps build your skill set. It forces you to rely on yourself.”
Sebastian, a Dearborn native, describes his music as “eclectic electronic-pop,” but says he incorporates elements from various genres into his songs as well.
“I enjoy constantly learning about different styles and seeing how they coalesce with my style, and how they fit together with other genres,” Sebastian said.
That pop-electronic fusion is instantly recognizable as soon as you take a listen to Sebastian’s first full-length album, Cast the Sun Into the Sea. The album was recorded in Los Angeles and Chicago during Sebastian’s several-year departure from the Great Lakes State (he has since relocated back to Michigan).
“The album itself marks a distinct change in direction from my prior material, which was folkier and a bit more light-hearted,” Sebastian said, labeling his previous works as more singer-songwriter oriented.
Sebastian received help from a few friends with his debut, including Demian Arriaga and Justin Gariano on drums and Brad Reaume, who polished a few tracks.
Currently, Sebastian is hard at work on his new EP, Things We See In Dreams, which he hopes to debut at the end of November. He plans to create a video trilogy to accompany it, which will focus on the dreams of a comatose man.
In order to put the EP together, Sebastian focused on inspiration found in his daily life, including his experiences and surroundings.
“Sometimes that’s other people’s music, sometimes it’s a movie, a book, a trip, a person on the same bus as me,” Sebastian said. “I am an observer by nature. Those observations get filtered through my conscious and subconscious mind and realize themselves as my music.”
Sebastian’s entire purpose for creating his music is purely personal—to make himself feel whole inside. He noted that most people make music for catharsis, not necessarily for the end product.
“That is why (music) is constantly evolving,” Sebastian said. “Hopefully it will continue to evolve and grow. The challenge is what keeps me glued to it every day. Some days are easy, most are not.”
Sebastian is drawn to recording and playing live for different reasons. Recording in the studio allows him to listen to his sound “under a microscope,” while performing live provides a tangible energy like no other.
“When we go to shows and hear the music of our favorite artists, there is this heightened state of natural euphoria that I absolutely love. As a performer, I get that same feeling on stage,” Sebastian said.
As for what he wants listeners to know most about The Salt & The Sea, it’s advice he’s still remembering to take in himself.
“Music, art, is not final, it is evolving. The Salt & The Sea, what you hear now, is just a snapshot in time of who I am now,” Sebastian said. “It does not necessarily mean that it is who I will be, nor what I even want to be, or where I want to be. It is a process and a journey, and I am merely seeing it through.”
For more information on The Salt & The Sea, visit Sebastian’s official website.